Famous Non-masons

Rumours abound about men who are supposed to have been Freemasons, but for whom there is no evidence of membership in the Craft. Here’s a short list.

First, the claim is often made that you have to be a Freemason to be elected President of the United States. Let’s look at that. In reality, only 14 of the 44 Presidents have been Masons. Here are the Presidents who were/are not members of the Craft:

  • John Adams, 1797 – 1801
  • Thomas Jefferson, 1801- 1809
  • James Madison, 1809 – 1817
  • John Quincy Adams, 1825 – 1829
  • Martin van Buren, 1837 – 1841
  • William Harrison, 1841
  • John Tyler, 1841 – 1845
  • Zachary Taylor, 1849 – 1850
  • Millard Fillmore, 1850 – 1853
  • Franklin Pierce, 1853 – 1857
  • Abraham Lincoln, 1861 – 1865
    (Lincoln had applied for admission shortly before being nominated for President, but withdrew his application, fearing that people would have taken it as politically-motivated.)
  • Ulysses S. Grant, 1869 – 1877
  • Rutherford Hayes, 1877 – 1881
  • Chester Alan Arthur, 1881 -1885
  • Grover Cleveland, 1885 – 1889
  • Benjamin Harrison, 1889 – 1893
  • Grover Cleveland, 1893 – 1897
  • Woodrow Wilson, 1913 – 1921
  • Calvin Coolidge, 1923 – 1929
  • Herbert Hoover, 1929 – 1933
  • Dwight Eisenhower, 1953 – 1961
  • John F Kennedy, 1961 – 1963
  • Lyndon Johnson, 1963 – 1969
    (Johnson was initiated as a Mason, but dropped out soon after due to pressure of work. As he had not progressed beyond the degree of Entered Apprentice, under the regulations of the Grand Lodge of Texas at the time, he was not – and still is not – considered a Freemason.)
  • Richard Nixon, 1969 – 1974
  • James Carter, Jr., 1977 – 1981
  • Ronald Reagan, 1981 – 1989
    (Reagan was made an honourary member of two concordant bodies (the Scottish Rite and the Shrine) but was never a Freemason.)
  • George HW Bush, 1989 – 1993
  • Bill Clinton, 1993 – 2001
    (Clinton once belonged to the Order of DeMolay, a youth group sponsored by Masonry but was never a Mason.)
  • George W Bush, 2001 – 2009
  • Barack Obama, 2009 – 2017
  • Donald Trump, 2017 –

And other famous men who are frequently referred to Freemasons but were/are not members:

  • Louis Armstrong, musician
  • Dante Alighieri, Renaissance Italian author
  • Neil Armstrong, astronaut, first man to walk on the moon
  • Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement
  • Sir Francis Bacon, scientist and statesman
  • Dan Brown, author
  • Dick Cheney, former Vice-President of the United States
  • Charlie Chaplain, actor
  • Sean Connery, actor
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, actor
  • Charles, Prince of Wales
  • Walt Disney, cartoonist.
    (Disney once belonged to the Order of DeMolay, a youth group sponsored by Masonry but was never a Mason)
  • Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel Laureate
  • Andrew Ellicott and Pierre L’Enfant, street plan designers for Washington, DC
  • Reverend Billy Graham, evangelist
  • Alex Haley, author
  • Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
  • Robert Heinlein, author
  • Adolph Hitler, Fuehrer of Nazi Germany
  • Bob Hope, entertainer and actor
  • L. Ron Hubbard, author, founder of the Church of Scientology
  • Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, minister and civil rights activist
  • Nicolo Machiavelli, Renaissance Italian author and political scientist
  • Karl Marx, communist theorist
  • Louis, Lord Mountbatten, British admiral, last Viceroy of India
  • Sir Isaac Newton. scientist and mathematician
  • Carroll O’Connor, actor
  • Colin Powell, US Army general and Secretary of State
  • William Shakespeare, playwright
  • Joseph Stalin, Chairman of the Communist Party, USSR
  • Bram Stoker, author (Dracula)
  • Wolfe Tone, Irish revolutionary
  • Richard Wagner, composer
  • HG Wells, author
  • LL Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto